Boundless energy and oomph (Language relating to energy, Part 2)

in a toy shop, a grandfather bounces energetically on a pogo stick, watched by his young grandson
Sean Justice/The Image Bank/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Part 1 of this ‘energy’ series looked at adjectives for describing lively, energetic people. This post looks at nouns that mean ‘energy’ and idioms that we use to describe energetic people.

Let’s start with the word ‘energy’ itself as there are some very useful collocations. We say that we have and get energy and we also say that we save and conserve it:

I have so much more energy on my new regime.

Did I hear you say you’ve just run fifteen miles? Where do you get the energy?

I think you should rest and conserve/save your energy for this evening.

Something that makes us feel less energetic may be said to sap our energy:

This heat just saps my energy.

Someone who seems always to have lots of energy may be said to have boundless or endless energy:

Her colleagues all say she has boundless energy.

I was always amazed by his seemingly endless energy.

Finally, for the word ‘energy’, we often refer to how energetic we are feeling by talking about our energy level(s):

I need something to boost my flagging energy levels.

Moving on to near-synonyms, the noun vitality is often used to mean ‘the quality of having energy’ and the noun (UK) vigour (US) vigor combines energy with determination or strength:

I’m taking a supplement that claims to restore lost vitality.

He took a brief break at the start of the year but returned to work with renewed vigour.

A nice informal word that combines energy and power is oomph (pronounced /ʊmf/):

I need a cup of coffee in the morning to give me a bit of oomph.

We talk about drive, meaning ‘the energy and determination to do something’:

Her drive to succeed against the odds was extraordinary.

The noun verve means ‘energy and enthusiasm’ and is often used in the context of a performance:

The cast are full of youthful verve. / The speech was delivered with great verve.

Zeal means ‘enthusiasm and energy’. It is sometimes used rather negatively, meaning ‘too much enthusiasm and energy’:

In her zeal to raise standards, she was perhaps a little uncompromising.

Let’s finish with a few nice phrases. Someone who is described as a bundle of energy is always very energetic:

Maria’s daughter is a real bundle of energy – she never stops.

If you describe someone as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you mean that they appear cheerful and full of energy (sometimes when this surprises you):

Amazingly, Lily came down to breakfast bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, despite having been up till three o’clock this morning.

Finally, someone who has a spring in their step suggests by their walk or general behaviour that they are now feeling happy and energetic:

Since he met his girlfriend, there’s more of a real spring in his step.

That concludes my two-part post on energy. I hope you walk with a spring in your step this week!


5 thoughts on “Boundless energy and oomph (Language relating to energy, Part 2)

  1. Splendid [I agree, Mohammed!].

    Raspberry, I also found the piece lucid and very clear.

    Especially when Kate reflected on the concept of collocation and how energy shows this in the words with which it goes.

    I might point out that vitality comes from vita which is Latin for life and living.

    [this is also your record of jobs or things that you have done].

    Sometimes someone can also be a bundle of *nerves* or *nervous energy*.

    And some people have had a long autumn and winter before they developed a spring in their step or it returned to them.

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